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Farmer's market strawberries/cherries - my sour tale

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Went to the farmer's market yesterday all excited to buy fresh local strawberries and cherries. The perfect taste of summer.....or so I thought.

Despite sampling fruit from several vendors, I left empy handed as all the strawberries and cherries were mealy and sour. Or at best had no sweetness to them at all.

I asked the farmers if things would get better later in the season, but they weren't very promising saying that growing conditions had not been idea...not hot enough or enough sun.

Has anyone had good local fruit this year...and if so..where did you get it?

I'm really not interested in buying imported fruit.....but I'm not sure I have an option this summer!

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  1. I've been buying good local strawberries at various stores on Danforth Ave. for at least weeks now. Try the fruit and Vegetable places near Logan and Danforth. (3 to choose from at that corner)

    3 Replies
    1. re: foodyDudey

      Have had local strawberries this season that were wonderfully sweet.
      Purchased on Ronscenvalles, and at mcewan.
      Red throughout, and mid sized.

      1. re: erly

        In my post I see I missed a word, I meant to say " for at least three weeks now".
        On Danforth Ave, the local strawberries are usually $3.99 a for a plastic green mesh
        basket that appearsto be larger than a pint.

        1. re: foodyDudey

          I don't know if they're local (think from BC), but the one on the right on the north side of Danforth and logan has some really nice organic cherries for $2.49/lb.

          Walking up to Danforth, I came across this one house with a massive cherry (-filled) tree. I had to jump and pull down a branch to get a small handful, but oh, man was it worth it. So sweet. I think the owner just lets them fall to the ground, what a waste. If you see someone late at night on Logan with a ladder "stealing" cherries, that's me.

    2. I got some absolutely wonderful strawberries yesterday at Forsythe Farms on Kennedy Rd north of Major Mac in Markham...I also have made several batches of freezer jam in the past couple of weeks with lovely local strawberries purchased at Loblaws and Valumart...there is some lovely fruit available.

      6 Replies
      1. re: tochowchick

        I am curious what product you use for gelling the freezer jam and where you buy it, because it doesn't seem like the major chains carry a lot of preserving stuff. I've heard that Canadian Tire might have stuff but in Toronto? It just seems unlikely... I did pick up some special freezer Jam stuff by Club House at Loblaws Superstore, it does not require tons of sugar but the main jell agent seems to be carageenan so I'm not expecting great results (my berries, picked at Fernwood Farms near Stayner, aren't so great either so they won't really be wasted).

        1. re: julesrules

          Canadian tire has everything you need.. EVEN in Toronto...

          1. re: OnDaGo

            OK thanks. I am also curious about a product by Dr Oetker called Jam Magic that may be carried by Sobey's?

            1. re: julesrules

              I use Certo Light (not Certo)...get it at any of the major grocery stores and it works very well...have never tried the Dr. Oetker product.

              1. re: tochowchick

                The Certo Light package contains easy and dependable directions to make freezer jam. I use it exclusively for strawberries and it's really fantastic. There is no voodoo involved - just stir it all together according the the instructions and you're done. You can buy Certo just about anywhere - No Frills, Sobeys, Loblaws, IGA - anywhere.

                1. re: Nyleve

                  I believe you, but pretty sure I didn't see it at my Superstore or IGA yesterday. Some other Certo products but not the light that I recall. My IGA is small and the Superstore, while huge, has an amazingly poor selection of specialty items. But now I know the product exists & works, so thanks all.

      2. If you feel like making a day of it, you can always go picking at the "local" farms in southern Ontario.

        I went last weekend to a farm mid-way b/w Hamilton & Niagara, and we thought it would be fun to pick our own strawberries. We ended up picking 2 baskets worth, and actually picking time took little less than 1 hour. The berries themselves weren't overly huge (as your farmers mentioned, not ideal conditions) but they were very tasty.

        A couple of things to keep in mind if you decide to do this, find the farms that offer pick your own (found a bunch at http://ontario.farmvisit.com/ ) and CALL AHEAD. The pick you own season is pretty short depending on the fruit. Most places said that their PYO strawberries were done for the season. PYO sweet cherries are just starting this weekend for most of the farms I spoke with (I may end up going this weekend) and should last 2 to 3 weeks

        Also, if you don't feel like picking, a lot of these farms also sell pints, and baskets of fruit as well.

        Like I said, it is a bit of a drive, but getting the fruit right from the farm, I don't think you can get more fresh than that.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Lazar

          We went cherry picking last year and did not think the cherries were worth the long drive or the cost.

          but we did pick some very fresh and sweet strawberries at Whittamore's yesterday (Steeles east of Neilson). They were huge but fair sized and quite sweet.

        2. I had a 6 qt basket off the farm for $8 weekend before last. Very tart and sharp, but very flavourful - the fruit were small and concentrated.

          It's been a late, cool fall and berries want a good rain and a couple of days of warm sun in development to get \ sweet plump ones. I despair as we've had cool, cloudy, wet days - albeit with some sun - and I fear that my next purchase may be large mushies.

          I hope I'm a liar.

          1. i bought some local strawberries at my sobeys last week

            while they had the right color and appearance (none of these big dry ones that are white on the inside) the sweetness just was not there that you'd get in a really good strawberry

            2 Replies
            1. re: duckdown

              That has been my experience this year as well. And I never have good luck with local bing cherries, I allow myself imported ones at their peak. I love the local sour cherries for baking however - one of my favourite things.

              1. re: duckdown

                My theory is that, like tomatoes, the flavour of strawberries really suffers if refrigerated at all. So berries that you buy at a supermarket, while local, will never have the sweetness of a farm-stand or self-picked berry because it has been necessary to refrigerate them at some point. I picked a basket of berries last week which were awesome. This morning I ran out to get just one quart of berries at my local IGA - yes, they were local - but they just didn't taste the same. They'd been chilled, of course, for transport.

              2. Even the strawberries from my backyard taste like crap this year

                1 Reply
                1. re: szw

                  Well I've now tried strawberries/cherries from a farmer's market, Loblaws organic and Whole Foods. None of them were great.

                  Those of you who have had sweet fruit this year can you list the spots that you bought them. It seems from this thread that the Danforth has been the best place. But where are they getting their fruit from?
                  Going a whole summer without a decent strawberry or cherry is just tragic!